Remains of shipwreck with strange past unearthed by tide at NC coast

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Surf City beachgoers experienced a rare treat Monday afternoon.

The Town of Surf City announced on their Facebook page remains of the William H Sumner were uncovered near the old Barnacle Bills Pier.

The fragments of wood are uncovered by the tide once or twice a year, according to the town. People generally report finding the shipwreck at low tide after large storms.

The schooner went down in 1919 while it was carrying mahogany and phosphate rock from the West Indies to New York.

The ship initially crashed at the Topsail Inlet, but after salvaging some parts, the Coast Guard blew it up because it was a safety hazard. The part that wound up on Surf City’s beach is believed to be the ship’s inner shell.

Local historians say the circumstances surrounding the shipwreck are still shrouded in mystery. The captain was shot after the wreck and the ship’s first mate was convicted of the murder initially.

Eventually, the man was acquitted of the crime and the captain’s death was ruled a suicide.

The town’s post also reminded people not to disturb the wreckage, as shipwrecks are protected by the state.

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